Friday, June 30, 2000

Taft signs death tax bill, many estates to pay nothing

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS, Ohio — Fewer Ohioans would pay taxes on estates they inherit under a bill Gov. Bob Taft signed Thursday. Gov. Taft said the bill will protect family farms and small businesses trying to pass their assets from generation to generation.

        Gov. Taft, who resisted lawmakers' attempts earlier this year to cut other taxes, was willing to sign the estate tax bill because of its low cost to the state. It will reduce tax revenue about $200 million over the next two years, compared to a state budget of about $20 billion, Taft said.

        “We believe that this is a measure whose time has come,” he said.

        Sen. Robert Latta, a Bowling Green Republican who pushed the estate tax cut through the Ohio Senate, said Thursday's bill signing starts the process for eliminating the tax entirely.

        “It's not fair to Ohio's families, it's not fair for Ohio's farmers, it's not fair to Ohio's senior citizens, it's not fair to Ohio's small businesses,” Mr. Latta said.

        Mr. Latta said families often are forced to sell their farms because they can't afford the estate tax.

        Phyllis Fowler, 61, who runs Fowler Products Inc. of Crestline, said her son Mark could face a tax bill of up to $200,000 on the company when she dies.

        Under the bill, which becomes law in 90 days, almost 80 percent of Ohioans who are left money, property or other assets would pay no tax on the inheritance by 2002.

        The result would be a $93 million tax cut in 2002 and $151 million in 2003. Taxes wouldn't have to be paid on estates of $200,000 or less after January 2001. Taxes wouldn't have to be paid on estates of $338,000 or less after January 2002.

        The bill also increases the percentage of the estate tax collected by local municipalities.


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